This is the final week in our 5-part series about biblical themes that will help us to combat the “corrupting talk” that comes out of our mouths (Ephesians 4:29)—or in these digital days, comes across in our social media comments, texts, and emails.
Here is a quick recap:
1. Sin: We don’t need a better communication strategy; we have a sinful heart. “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
2. Grace: Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), but too often, we excuse toxic talk under the guise of truth.
3. Identity: Being secure in your identity as a child of God (1 John 3:1-3) removes the burden of being praised, accepted, affirmed, and agreed with.
4. Glory: If you’re obsessed with your own glory, you won’t pursue the glory of God and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 18:11-12).
What’s the fifth and final theme? It’s the final chapter of God’s story, and the forever that will follow.
I am persuaded that much of the toxicity we contribute to and experience in our communication and relationships is the result of eternity amnesia.
Every Christian believes in eternal life, but we don’t always live with eternity in view today. When we do, it changes the way we react to everything in life.
Eternity comforts us with one amazing truth: everything will be okay because God will make all things new again.
“‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’” (Revelation 21:4-5, ESV).
Could it be that much of the fearful, defensive, angry, and anxious reactivity that lives in our communication and relationships is the result of eternity amnesia? Could it be that we have lost sense of the plot and have forgotten how our story will end?
The pastors I mentor have told me again and again that the angry reactivity which now lives in their congregations is driven by fear:
- What if our liberties are taken away?
- What if this leader doesn’t win?
- What if this view of gender wins the day?
- What if this conspiracy theory turns out to be true?
Fearful people arrive at family gatherings, church, elections, and social media defensive, angry, and loaded.
We don’t need to live in a state of panic. We know who we are, what we have been graced with, where God is taking us, and how it will all end.
God will win, and his children will celebrate that victory with him and share in its spoils!
P.S. – I have adapted these last five weeks from my latest book, Reactivity: How the Gospel Transforms Our Actions and Reactions. I have been grieved by how Christians on social media talk to one another publicly. It’s a troubling contrast to Jesus’s words in John 13:35: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
But even if you don’t have a Twitter account and have never left a nasty comment on social media, we all struggle with toxic reactions in our relationships. My prayer is that God will use Reactivity to help us love one another, just as Christ loves us.
Paul David Tripp
1. What corrupting talk came out of your mouth, or digitally via your fingers, this week? What was the occasion? What was the motivation? What was the result?
2. What are you most afraid of? Why do you think you are so scared? How does this fear (or fears) impact your daily life? How does it impact your relationships?
3. Why should the promise of eternity instill confidence and alleviate some of these fears? Be specific, and ask the Lord to help you cast your anxiety on him.
4. Apart from your communication and relationships, where else in your life do you need to live more with eternity in view?
5. How can the reality of eternity motivate a lifestyle of evangelism? Who has God placed in your path that does not yet know the Lord? How can you start a conversation with them this week about Forever?